Farmers around the country are responding to the need to help the ranchers hardest hit by the devastation from the wildfires in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.
“Some of the pictures don’t do justice compared to the stories we’ve been hearing. The loss of livestock and the loss of genetics these people have been building for all of these years are devastating. It is crazy the magnitude this turned out to be. They lost their farms, their homes and their livelihood,” said Latham Farley, from Montgomery County who is involved with the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Ag Professionals. “This is such a huge problem in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. There is a drive and determination to help our neighbors and our fellow farmers there. It is awesome to see how people from around the nation have come together to help with this big need.”
There are multiple efforts to provide assistance for the areas hit by wildfires from Ohio’s agricultural community.
“The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association is taking donations at the Beef Expo for the specific charities out there. If you want to donate, it is a great time to give monetary donations,” Farley said. “They need bags of feed. They need milk replacer for calves that have lost their moms. They need fencing materials such as metal fence posts, barbed wire and insulators. They need clothes, gloves, non-perishable foods — they lost absolutely everything. They have a loss of soil from some of the winds they are still having so they need manure and cover crop seed to slow down some of that soil loss.”
Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals are also trying to raise funds for the cause.
“We are trying to raise $40,000 for some of the targeted areas from the Young Farmers and Ranchers in about two weeks. We are trying to get the supplies they need,” he said. “We are trying to set up a weekend in each of the affected areas and coordinate that on a national scale to get everyone what they need, especially these young and beginning farmers. I think we can make a positive difference out there for the people who really need help.”
Rose Hartschuh and her husband, Greg, farm in Crawford County, where they raise corn, soybeans, and dairy cattle. They are planning a trip to the wildfire area March 24 though 28 to deliver supplies and lend some helping hands to the relief effort.
“It really started by reading the stories of these ranchers out west, specifically the ones in Texas who gave their lives protecting their animals. People do not understand how much farmers care about what they do. Those people really demonstrated that in a tangible way. They gave their lives to protect their livestock. I was just feeling like we needed to do something,” Rose said. “We started with a contribution of hay but it seems like there was more we could do if we were going to make the trip clear out there and do some things to make a lasting impact. We put an ask out on Facebook to see who would be interested in joining us and we were blown away by the response. From there we started putting together some plans. We reached out to the Kansas Livestock Association and they have been instrumental in helping us develop a plan for our time in Kansas and help fine tune the details.”
The area has already received substantial amounts of hay from farms around the country and now the greatest need may be fencing.
“It seems like they have a fairly good supply of hay. There is some need for some trucking to pick up hay and deliver it to where it needs to be. Fencing seems to be the biggest need so we are collecting fencing supplies like t-posts and barbed wire. Another need is cash. A lot of us have the desire to do something physical but money is just as important,” she said. “It sounds like fence building is going to be a pretty big project we are going to undertake. The Livestock Association is going to put us in touch with some ranchers who need help getting back on their feet. We hope while we are there we can make a difference in that way.”
Please visit this link for a form to pledge support or volunteer for the trip with the group from Ohio. If you would like to travel with the group, please complete the form by March 20. There has also been a fund set up to help move the donated hay to the affected areas. Checks can be made to Ohio’s Kansas Rancher Wildfire Relief Efforts and mailed to 6348 Parks Rd, Sycamore, Ohio 44882.